Jacksonville, other Fla. communities fight for clean water

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Communities across Florida are coming together to fight for clean water. Jacksonville, Palatka and Gainesville are among the cities concerned about water quality.

Environmental groups say the state waterways are either choked by pollution and toxic algae or drying up because of overconsumption of water, or both.

Concerned citizens from more than 100 different organizations as well as elected officials participated in the Floridians' Clean Water Declaration Campaign across the state.

St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman led Jacksonville's "Commit to Clean Water" event in Riverside with the St. Johns River as the backdrop.

Rinaman plans to go to Tallahassee on Feb. 18 to push for cleaner water efforts to be made.

"If we are proactive and take care of it, our quality of life, our economy will thrive," Rinaman said. "If not, we're going to have to pay taxpayer dollars to fix these resources."

There were 16 other cities across the state that held the same event Wednesday encouraging people to sign the Floridians' Clean Water Declaration.

There are several points in the declaration. One, for example, is "the people of Florida have an inalienable right to have abundant water for drinking, fishing and recreation."

One local kayaker at the event, Roger Linville, said he hopes people make changes with how they use water and treat the St. Johns River.

"There were too many times this past year when the algae blooms in the river kept us out of the river," Linville said.

He said there were other times when the St. Johns River was unsafe to swim in this year and that fishermen were worried they couldn't eat the fish they caught due to the river's cleanliness.

"It's very frustrating and upsetting," he said. "I think it's been mentioned several times, the St. Johns River is the crown jewel of northeast Florida."

To sign the online petition for cleaner water, go to www.wewantcleanwater.com.

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